Dear friends and neighbors,
Thank you to those who attended the 48th Legislative District Town Hall with Sen. Patty Kuderer, Rep. Vandana Slatter and me on Saturday, February 22, and to those who participated in our Telephone Town Hall on Tuesday, February 25. I always appreciate when friends, neighbors and community members take the time to share comments, questions and concerns with me. Our communities are stronger when we all work together.
CORONAVIRUS PUBLIC SAFETY UPDATE
Washington state is experiencing an increase in cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and it is anticipated that the virus will continue to spread. As you are likely aware, there have been several cases of coronavirus confirmed in King County. I am saddened and concerned that the first death in the United States occurred in Kirkland. These illnesses are associated with a compromised immune system and the risk to the general public is low. Risk of exposure is elevated for healthcare workers, people who have had close contact with persons with COVID-19, and travelers returning from affected international locations (China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Japan, and Hong Kong). Our public health officials and emergency responders are working to contain and manage the outbreak and keep our community safe.
There are several things you can do to protect your family during the outbreak. Here are the personal health habits recommended by the Washington State Department of Health:
- Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.
- Stay home when you’re sick.
- If you are sick and wondering what to do, call your healthcare provider before you go to a clinic or emergency room.
It is also recommended to stock up on food and essentials such as soap, tissues, and sanitizer should schools close or should it become necessary to stay home from work. If you or one of your household members have a chronic condition and regularly take prescription drugs, talk to your health provider, pharmacist, and insurance provider about keeping an emergency supply of medications at home. For additional resources on how to prepare for the coronavirus, please visit: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus#beprepared.
The situation with coronavirus is rapidly evolving. For the most up to date information, please visit the Seattle and King County Public Health website: www.kingcounty.gov/COVID
If you have questions, you can call the Washington State Department of Health at 1-800-525-0127 and press #.
As we are all aware, there is a homelessness and housing affordability crisis in Washington state. I am deeply concerned about the lack of affordable housing in our community, and this was the topic we received the most questions about at our town halls.
As one constituent shared:
I recently was on the Capitol Ideas podcast to talk about the importance of increasing housing stock and density in our neighborhoods to create more housing choices for communities of all sizes. Click to listen about what we’re working on in the Legislature to address this crisis.
House Budgets Highlights
The state House of Representatives passed our 2020 Supplemental Operating Budget last week. Here are a few highlights that I am particularly proud of:
- We are addressing the homelessness and housing affordability crisis by investing $235 million into a variety of housing solutions, including a $100 million transfer from the state’s General Fund to the Housing Trust Fund and $75 million into a new fund for Permanent Supportive Housing operations.
- We are making critical investments into our behavioral health system to help families in crisis. Our $68 million investment includes funding for state hospital staffing and operations, and there is additional funding for non-Medicaid services and increased behavioral health provider rates.
- We are honoring our promise to retired public servants in our state’s PERS/TRS 1 retirement system by funding a three percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), so that individuals who spent their careers taking care of our communities may continue to stay in the communities they helped serve.
The House and the Senate both approved their respective versions of the supplemental capital, operating, and transportation budgets last week. We are now negotiating on what will be included in the final budgets before the 2020 session adjourns on March 12.
With less than two weeks left of the legislative session, we are working hard to pass progressive policies and fund essential services. In the coming weeks, I will be sharing an end of session report, which will include a summary of my bills that passed this session and what was included in the final budgets.
Rep. Amy Walen